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GTF wants Tamil political leadership to act strategically 

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The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) says that the 40,000 to 70,000 Tamil civilians killed in the final months of the war in northern Sri Lanka constitutes only a fraction of the total number of deaths during the 30-year-old conflict. The UK headquartered organisation has urged the Tamil community and their leaders to take stock of the challenges and opportunities in the present political climate and act strategically by forming partnerships with stakeholders across all communities in Sri Lanka and in the international community.

The following is the text of a statement issued by Suren Surendiran on behalf of the GTF to mark the 12th anniversary of the final battle in Mullivaikkal: “The GTF joins Tamils worldwide in commemorating the 12th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka. The final phase of the war is one of the most brutal in recent history and mass atrocity crimes were systematically committed against the Tamil people. It is estimated that 40,000 to 70,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final months alone, and this constitutes only a fraction of the total deaths, destruction and displacement suffered by the Tamil community during its 70-year political struggle for equality and justice in Sri Lanka. 

 The GTF is conscious that death and destruction in Sri Lanka is not restricted to the Tamil community alone and it pays tribute to all those who suffered enormously due to the violent ethnic conflict. 

 It is tragic that 12 years after the end of the war, Sri Lanka is still struggling to come to terms with its past. The Sri Lankan government, not only denies that serious crimes were committed by its armed forces (though the whole world knows the truth), also, attempts to deny the self-evident truth that the armed conflict in Sri Lanka was an outcome of the systematic discrimination, marginalization and violence the Tamil community was subjected to.  

The Tamil community also need to reflect deeply – its political history and its successes and failures – and acknowledge the pain and suffering endured by all communities due to actions carried out on behalf of them.  

The unconscionable approach and attitude the Sri Lankan government has adopted towards the minority communities that has led to the destruction and desecration of the Mullivaikal Memorial Monuments on the eve of the Annual Remembrance Day – one of the most barbaric acts any decent human being can contemplate. 

 No doubt wanton acts such as these where even memorialization of the dead is made impossible will only strengthen the resolve of the Tamil people to redouble their efforts to achieve justice and political equality in Sri Lanka. For the international community, no better demonstration is needed to illustrate the nature of the regime they must deal with.  

 For the majority Sinhala community, uncivilized acts such as these can only tarnish the image of the country in the eyes of the world, and they too live in denial, without raising their voices against totalitarian-majoritarian impulses of the government, will effectively make them exclusive citizens of a pariah state. 

 It is important that the Tamil community remains conscious and sensitive to the immense suffering and sacrifices made by large sections of our community during the decades-long struggle. Equally important is that the Tamil people and their leaders take stock of the challenges and opportunities in the present political climate and act strategically by forming partnerships with stakeholders across all communities in Sri Lanka and in the international community. The importance and urgency of securing pragmatic and tangible gains, with the objective of fulfilling the political and economic aspirations of the Tamil people, cannot be overstated.”



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Haiti police riot after crime gangs kill 14 officers

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Protesters attempted to break into the Haitian prime minister's residence (picture BBC)

BBC reported that Rebel police officers rioted in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday following the killing of more than a dozen colleagues by criminal gangs.

The rioting officers blame the government for not taking action.

More than 100 demonstrators blocked streets, burned tyres, broke security cameras and damaged vehicles.

Local media said several officers broke through the gates of the prime minister’s residence and attempted to enter Haiti’s international airport.

Fourteen officers are thought to have died since the start of the year in various gang attacks on police stations.

Seven officers were killed in shootout on Wednesday alone, according to Haiti’s National Police.

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Gold-covered mummy among latest discoveries in Egyptian tomb

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One of four newly discovered tombs at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo (picture BBC)

BBC reported that archaeologists say they have found a gold leaf-covered mummy sealed inside a sarcophagus that had not been opened for 4,300 years.

The mummy, the remains of a man named Hekashepes, is thought to be one of the oldest and most complete non-royal corpses ever found in Egypt.

It was discovered down a 15m (50ft) shaft at a burial site south of Cairo, Saqqara, where three other tombs were found.

One tomb belonged to a “secret keeper”.

The largest of the mummies that were unearthed at the ancient necropolis is said to belong to a man called Khnumdjedef – a priest, inspector and supervisor of nobles.

Another belonged to a man called Meri, who was a senior palace official given the title of “secret keeper”, which allowed him to perform special religious rituals.

A judge and writer named Fetek is thought to have been laid to rest in the other tomb, where a collection of what are thought to be the largest statues ever found in the area had been discovered.

Several other items, including pottery, have also been found among the tombs.

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Health crisis: GMOA calls for WHO intervention

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Alleging the government has failed to address the developing crisis caused by grave shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has called for WHO’s intervention.In a letter dated January 26, 2023, addressed to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge has raised concerns about shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, escalating prices of medicines and allegations of malpractices and corruption in procurement procedures.

The GMOA has released its letter to the media along with what it called a 10 fold plan formulated by an expert committee set up by the GMOA.

The following are the GMOA’s proposals:

1. To appoint a high-level coordinating committee within the Ministry of Health to ensure effective communications and coordination between following institutions, identified as responsible for the whole exercise. (a) Ministry of Health focal points (b) Medical Supplies Division (MSD) (c) State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) d. State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) e. National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Monthly progress review meetings of aforementioned committees are to be ensured, with Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Health or his representative. Quarterly review with Minister of Health to facilitate arriving at essential policy decisions.

2. To ensure Transparent Procurement Procedures, where every interested citizen should be entitled to know the true facts.

3. To upgrade the available computer software programme to match the current needs and to ensure more efficiency in procurement procedures.

4. To appoint a technical committee to study Auditor General Reports with regard to procurement Procedures of last 5 years and actions to be declared with specific time frame to implement recommendations of the Auditor General.

5. Review the recent Presidential Investigation Commission reports and initiate urgent actions to file legal action against the respondents. Remove all those officials who are accused through these reports of malpractices, from their current posts, until the verdicts are delivered.

6. To minimise emergency purchases of Medicinal drugs and ensure the transparency of that process through progress reports on emergency purchases, which is to be published on a monthly basis.

7. To identify alternative modes for distribution of pharmaceutical drugs to peripheral stations (e.g.: Public Transport services with identified modifications)

8. To open an “Information Desk” at the Ministry of Health to effectively communicate with and guide the donors of pharmaceutical items.

9. To fill the existing vacancies at National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), following stipulated acceptable pathways and activating all the sub committees within NMRA.

10. To declare a relief package to reduce the prices of essential medicinal drugs, through the upcoming interim budget.

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